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Ready, Set, Transform Treatment

May 22, 2019

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Steering through the myriad of services available to treat a substance use disorder can feel like running in a maze. It’s complex, complicated and sometimes feels downright scary.

Which is why the First State launched the Delaware START (Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Transformation) Initiative. The goal is to engage more Delawareans suffering from substance use disorder in treatment, while also meeting their accompanying needs for housing employment, education, and other wraparound services. Through START, the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) is working with key stakeholders across the state, including treatment providers, hospitals, primary care providers, and other state agencies to foster systemwide improvements to engaging in treatment.

The new system of care is based on a framework that measures client outcomes and will ensure support through certified peer recovery specialists who meet with individuals wherever they connect with the system and help them navigate and stay engaged in their own care. In addition, the Delaware Treatment and Referral Network (DTRN) allows Delaware health care providers seeking substance use disorder treatment or mental health services for their patients to make an online referral.

“Ensuring there are seamless transitions from one level of care to the next, while also having a peer with lived experience helping them to navigate the system will help individuals suffering from addiction begin their road to recovery,” says Kristen Rego, START project director.

Its small size also makes Delaware uniquely situated for this type of initiative. Through funding from SAMHSA, Delaware is implementing a statewide quality improvement learning collaborative. Through the collaborative, system stakeholders are developing workflows and case management systems in order to provide innovative and rapid-response services statewide.

“We are so thankful for all of our providers who have partnered with us in this initiative,” says Elizabeth Romero, Director of DSAMH. “Their efforts are essential in creating a system of care that is high-quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidence-based and person-centered.”

Delaware START aims to achieve specific outcome indicators, including decreasing overdose deaths, improving the well-being of those suffering from substance use disorders and their families, and helping communities thrive.

By using data to recognize where there are opportunities in the system and by uniting stakeholders in one collaborative, they can develop relationships at all levels of care to make warm hand-offs and referrals easier.

By having a system in place, and by utilizing peer support teams for support, Delaware START is making the treatment system less complex, less complicated, and much easier to navigate for those who need help most of all.

Delaware START was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.

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Mark Powell

J. Mark Powell is an author, former network journalist, and veteran communications expert. Read more about Mark Powell.